What better to keep you awake on a stormy autumn night than turning out the lights for a spine-chilling tale of horror from a past era?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one…
Perhaps some of the best, certainly the most popular and most well-remembered by the OTR community, these are the top ten most commonly recommended radio shows. Many websites proclaim they are of the highest quality writing and the scariest of tales. If you are unfamiliar with OTR, these are a great place to start!
The Most Commonly Recommended Horror OTR:
Death Robbery (Boris Karloff)
Behind the Locked Door
The Porch Light
The Thing on the Fourble Board
Sorry, Wrong Number
The House in Cypress Canyon
I just never felt they were all that scary; not nearly the best Old Time Radio has to offer. Without question you won’t go wrong with any of the popular titles on this list, but we want to take you further into the dark labyrinth of horror from yesteryear and present the shows we feel are the weirdest, most bewitchingly captivating… and most frightening:
Madmen, Mayhem, & Murder:
Weird Macabre Tales from the Golden Days of Radio
A poor man takes a room with an old man filled with vitality and his daughter’s ghost. Beautiful atmosphere. Worth listening twice, as the twist is not clearly spelled out.
The Thirsty Death (1945)
(John Carradine, Bela Lugosi) A jealous husband locks his wife and her ex-beau in a house surrounded by mad dogs, then injects “one of them” with rabies! He leaves a knife for one to kill the infected when they go mad…
The Devil’s Workshop (1945)
A wax sculptor notices his figure of the Devil in a new location each day until it disappears. That day, a man with no face shows up asking him to mold one in the sculptor’s own image… which allows him to steal the sculptor’s girlfriend. She grows increasingly violent, then the sculptor notices his Bloody Mary figure is also missing. Crazed, he burns off the Devil’s face!
Lonely Sleep (1945)
A window-dresser doesn’t like being made fun of by his crush… so he kills her and hides her body in the window display. It’s so lifelike, it starts to draw a crowd!
Mahogany Coffin (1945)
A gravedigger prepares for his own death, but is thwarted by a man who is jealous of his job. The gravedigger’s corpse comes looking for his bed-cum-coffin, but there’s someone there!
Don’t Go Down In The Mine (1945)
A crazy drunk tells the story of a coal mine cave-in. Two men are stabbed to death as sacrifices with invisible knives held by the ghosts of druids. The mine was dug on an ancient sacred site.
The Screaming Woman (1945)
A girl hears a woman’s cries from under the ground of an abandoned lot– but no one will believe her! Most suspenseful story ever! (Also by:Suspense) [Adapted from Ray Bradbury]
Can’t You Do Anything Right? (1945)
A hen-pecked husband gets revenge on his wife by using the very same home improvement she nagged him about. But he didn’t even do that right!
The Heavy Death (1945)
A mad scientist makes himself “heavy” (as in heavy water, or uranium.) His might crushes men’s skulls! He also has a death ray! But the ghost of a man with a crushed skull comes for revenge!
The Secret of XR-3 (1945)
Gorgo, a vaudeville dwarf is dominated by is giant partner. When given a chance at normal height, he must kill for the ‘opportunity for growth.’
William and Mary (1945)
An overly controlling husband dies and leaves his brain to science. He is kept alive, immobile, with one eye intact, while his wife plots revenge! [Adapted from Roald Dahl] (See also Fear on Four, It has been adapted for television on Tales of the Unexpected)
Flesh Peddler (1945)
(DeForest Kelly) Talent agent wants to sign a ventriloquist act at a carnival. Yup. The dummy walks, seeking revenge for his mother’s murder. One of the best.
Fugue in C-Minor (1945)
(Vincent Price) Man’s wife haunts a mansion with an organ in the walls. He murders his wives by organ music.
The Hairy Monster (1945)
A woman will inherit a mansion if she can sleep there every night for a year. The female occultist benefactor’s corpse comes inside to steal the woman’s body.
The Mannequin (1945)
An artist buys a dummy for his studio, a beautiful female with glass eyes and realistic hair. When it comes to kill his wife in jealousy, they discover its hideous secret!
The Devil’s Number (1945)
Thirteen drops of blood fall on the skull of a wizard and re-animate his body! The woman whose blood was spilled becomes his slave! She is only saved by dum-dum bullets, a cross cut into their head.
Funeral Arrangements Completed (1945)
A man inherits a mansion, but is tricked by a ghostly innkeeper and a man in a coffin. Then his wife is dragged to a lime pit. A trap-door! Buried silver! Vengeance from the grave!
Spawn of the Subhuman (1945)
A female vocalist’s flight is hijacked. By a gorilla. Who sings opera. It is her ex-fiancee’s voice inside the simian! Guess what the mad doctor’s plans are for her? But wait… did the gorilla’s voice just crack?
The Green Vase (Lanceford House) (1945)
A man buys the Lanceford House, in which there sits a vase that cannot be moved lest horrifying repercussions befall the one who touched it. He plays with the vase by only placing a coin underneath. Dumb move.
The Ash Tree (1945)
A witch curses a house as she is hanged. Thereafter, people who sleep in the bedroom near the ash tree in that house die painful deaths… from the spiders with long, gray hair that crawl out of it! A cat dies. When the tree is burned, guess who’s mummified body they find inside? [Adapted from M.R. James]
Dance of the Devil Dolls (1945)
Tiny dolls do an animated dance at midnight at the behest of an old woman. The old toy-maker is killed and the dolls with her. Creepy tapping sounds!
The Shadow People (1945)
The shadows “want the girl.” When they can’t get her, they begin to kill her family one by one. Her only weapon: the light. They are just playing with her. When they are ready, they blow the fuse box and take her. They are still out there.
A Knock at the Door (1945)
A woman decides to murder her mother-in-law to get ahead in life, but she keeps coming up from the basement!
Revolt of the Worms (1945)
A scientist allows his assistant to dump leftover growth serum in the backyard. His wife hears strange sounds like movement beneath the ground… before she disappears down a giant hole!
It Happened (1945)
A wealthy girl looking for fun runs into the wrong sort and ends up wandering the sewers of Paris. Another of the wrong sort finds her, and forces her to make necklaces of bone. Scary first person horror, but the twist ending doesn’t add up.
Burn Witch Burn (1945)
A local “doll woman” runs afoul of the mob. A doctor investigates and the strega possesses him, ordering him to “Kill, kill, kill!” anyone who gets to close to her secret. But… he knows Latin!
Horror of Dead Lake (1945)
Mad Scientist in deserted pirate castle creates giant genetic mutations. He and his giant leech and venus flytrap are just misunderstood.
They Bite (1945)
Lazarus Rising (1945)
When a reporter investigates a man returned from the dead, he churns up the secrets of a country town. George Sannox was murdered, but isn’t looking for revenge. It was his daughter Sarey who resurrected him for vengeance, but it’ll take the whole town to send him back.
Final Resting Place (1945)
A man agrees to be buried alive for a sizable payment. Hypnotized by Prof. Vincent, he successfully awakes a week later… but there are more experiments to be done.
The Screaming Skull (1945)
A man is haunted by screaming sounds at night… and the skull of a friend’s murdered wife!
Pleasant dreams… What was that scratching at the window?